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John Farrell: Red Sox ‘are making every attempt’ to bring back Jon Lester 11.25.14 at 2:57 pm ET
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It comes as little surprise to see Red Sox manager John Farrell beaming at the shape that his 2015 lineup is starting to take. With Pablo Sandoval — a wrecking ball against right-handed pitchers — at third base and Hanley Ramirez (who hammers both lefties and righties) now slated to join the middle of the team’s lineup, the run-starved days of 2014 should prove far less frequent next season.

“We’€™ve made two very good additions, no doubt, particularly before [when] you’€™d sense the free agent market really coming into shape. [GM Ben Cherington] has done a great job of being able to add these two players before Thanksgiving,” said Farrell. “When you consider Hanley in left, Yoenis [Cespedes] in either center or right, you begin to look at power bats in a number of different positions and this is a really deep lineup as we stand today.”

Still, while the lineup (with that intriguing proposition of Cespedes at a different spot in the outfield) is now well-defined, Farrell acknowledged that the Sox’ offseason work is incomplete.

“What remains throughout the offseason is still an interesting proposition. … We’€™ve got a ways to go through this offseason,” said Farrell. “We’€™ve got complete trust in what Ben and his staff are doing. Clearly, there’€™s two prime pieces of evidence to suggest that. We’€™ve got work to be done, we’€™ve got additions to be made. So there’€™s going to be a number of things that are going to be interesting to follow here throughout the winter.”

Foremost among those will be the vacancy sign that hovers over 60 percent of the Red Sox rotation, with curiosity looming about whether the Red Sox might be able to bring Jon Lester back into the fold. Farrell acknowledged that the Sox are doing what they can to bring back the left-hander, though declined to handicap the likelihood of a return. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: John Farrell, Jon Lester,
Buster Olney on MFB: ‘Really surprised’ about Pablo Sandoval choosing Red Sox over Giants 11.24.14 at 1:53 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

With the Red Sox reportedly close to finalizing deals to land Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, ESPN’s Buster Olney checked in with the Middays with MFB crew for an update and analysis of the situation. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Olney said Sandoval appears to have chosen the Red Sox over the Giants despite similar offers.

“I was really surprised,” Olney said. “I thought that if the bidding were close, knowing Sandoval’s history with the Giants, knowing the Giants’ history of re-signing their own players, I thought that he would go back there. I thought that if any team was going to pry Sandoval away from the Giants it was going to be with a huge offer that far outweighed what San Francisco was putting on the table, and yet the offer that the Giants were talking about, which was $95 million plus the promise if Sandoval came back to them and asked for more was for something in the range of $100 million, that Sandoval just decided, apparently, that with two equal offers he wanted to go to Boston. And the Giants actually asked him in the last 24 hours, ‘Look, is there something we can do?’ And the answer they got back was no. That part of it really surprised me.

“It doesn’t necessarily surprise me that the Red Sox would be in on Hanley Ramirez, because I think once he — through his agent, Adam Katz — got it out there that he was willing to change positions, I think people looked at him very differently. Because as I mentioned earlier today, it’s a market that’s so lacking in good offensive players. Hanley Ramirez stands out, especially when you take him out of Dodger Stadium, which is a notorious pitcher’s park. You put him in other places, he can really rake.

“So for the Red Sox to land both those guys, it’s going to be a very different-looking offense than last year when it always seemed like they were bringing a knife to a gun fight.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: buster olney, hanley ramirez, Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval
Source: Jon Lester to meet with at least 2 more teams next week 11.21.14 at 5:11 pm ET
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After meeting with the Red Sox, Cubs and Braves this week, Jon Lester is scheduled to meet with at least two more teams next week, according to a source.

After Lester’s meeting with the Red Sox, a source said the Red Sox have made it clear that there will be a “willingness to negotiate.” Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson, said in an email to WEEI.com that the Red Sox “extended great respect” to Lester.

Read More: Jon Lester,
Devil in the details: Contract possibilities for Jon Lester and the Red Sox 11.19.14 at 2:52 pm ET
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Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

The Red Sox have made no secret of their desire to make a push for Jon Lester, a notion that has gained further credence with the reports (the first one of which came from ESPNBoston.com) that the team has made an offer to the left-hander.

But, of course, it is one thing to make an offer, another to find common ground to satisfy Lester’s interest in a salary befitting his status as an elite pitcher and the Sox’ interests in accounting for the risks associated with a long-term deal for a pitcher in his 30s. In the absence of concrete details about what shape that offer has taken, here are a few potential models and/or features of an offer that the Sox may try to incorporate as they attempt to reacquire an elite pitcher while minimizing the risk on the back end of the deal:

Model 1: Cliff Lee (fewer years, more dollars)

In the 2012-13 offseason, the Red Sox proved aggressive in terms of the average annual value they put on the table while trying to limit the number of years they committed to players. In doing so, they got (for instance) Shane Victorino to pass on a four-year deal worth roughly $11 million a year from the Indians in favor of a three-year, $39 million deal to come to Boston.

In the winter following the 2010 season, left-hander Cliff Lee walked away from potential deals of six-plus years (with offers typically rumored to be for $23 million or so per year) in favor of a five-year, $120 million deal ($24 million per year) with the Phillies. It’s worth noting that there are similarities between Lester’s situation and Lee’s.

Model 2: Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke (market value) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Contract
Peter Gammons on D&C on Jon Lester: ‘I get the feeling the Cubs think he’s going to go back to Boston’ 11.18.14 at 9:39 am ET
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Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons appeared on Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning to talk about Jon Lester and Pablo Sandoval as it relates to the Red Sox, as well as other Red Sox related matters. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Jon Lester is reportedly scheduled to visit with the Cubs on Tuesday, as they are one of the six reported teams interested in the left-hander. Gammons says even though the Cubs are meeting with Lester, they believe he will end up back with the Red Sox.

“I think there’s a chance, I really do,” said Gammons. “I think the one thing — obviously the Cubs are going to make every play — I get the feeling the Cubs think he’s going to go back to Boston. I think it’s very smart for Lester and his agents to hold for another week. I think there is a feeling it is going to go past Thanksgiving, maybe into the first week into December and the hope is that the Yankees look at that starting rotation and they think — I mean how do they know [Masahiro] Tanaka, [Michael] Pineda and [Ivan] Nova are going to be healthy next year and they start thinking about, ‘OK, we have great bullpen, but…’

“That is Red Sox ownership’s worst nightmare — the Yankees and Theo Epstein negotiating against them. But, after spring training when ACES told them [they would see what the market bears], they are finding out the market is going to bare more than they ever imagined.”

Free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval is in Boston early this week, scheduled to meet with the Red Sox to discuss a possible contract. The 28-year-old is coming off a World Series win with the Giants.

“I believe David Ortiz took him out to dinner last night,” Gammons said. “I don’t think it was to a Vegan restaurant.”

Gammons added: “I think he’s an interest here because I think he realizes there’s some reluctance for the Giants about how many years do you give him. One of the dilemmas that National League teams face is that you have a guy that is a bat that may be a DH at 32 or 33-years-old, it’s very hard to give them the kind of contract you can give them in the American League. For instance, Victor Martinez may be the best hitter in baseball right now, but no National League team, the Mets, could go after him because he’s an American League player. Sandoval might be that. I think the Giants are more prepared for this.”

Sandoval’s numbers aren’t as impressive as some think, as the switch-hitter has hit .279 and .278 the last two years respectively, combining to hit 30 home runs. Gammons feels playing in San Fransisco has a lot to do with the numbers.

“I do think he’s a really good hitter. That ballpark really hurts him,” Gammons said. “I think you get him into Fenway and his natural stroke is left-center field. I think he’d be a very good hitter here, but I agree with you that I think he’s going to be very good and the Red Sox have such a need for a left-handed bat. I mean when Stephen Drew is No. 3 on your team in left-handed home runs against right-handed pitching, I think you’re in trouble. He’s really the only guy there. That really tells you a lot about the market and that hitters have become so rare.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval, peter gammons, Yoenis Cespedes
Jon Lester finishes 4th in Cy Young voting; Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw win 11.12.14 at 9:07 pm ET
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Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

Left-hander Jon Lester, who posted a 16-11 record and career-best 2.46 ERA with 9.0 strikeouts and 2.0 walks per nine innings in a career-high 219 2/3 innings, finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting for his standout work on the mound with the Red Sox and A’s. The fourth-place finish in Cy Young voting is the second of Lester’s career, a finish that matches his recognition for going 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA, 9.7 strikeouts and 3.6 walks per nine innings in 2010.

Lester — whom the Sox traded to the A’s (along with Jonny Gomes) on July 31 in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes — was named on 25 of 30 ballots, receiving three third-place votes, 15 fourth-place votes and seven fifth-place votes. His 46 points were behind Cy Young winner Corey Kluber of the Indians (169 points), Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez (159 points) and White Sox lefty Chris Sale (78 points).

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw won his second straight Cy Young award and his third in four seasons, claiming all 30 first-place votes. He’s the 14th pitcher in NL history to win a Cy by unanimous acclaim.

Read More: cy young, Jon Lester,
Making (dollars and) sense of Cole Hamels’ contract as an alternative to Jon Lester 11.11.14 at 5:08 pm ET
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Left-hander Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 2014 -- the same mark as Jon Lester had for the Red Sox and A's. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Left-hander Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 2014 — the same mark as Jon Lester had for the Red Sox and A’s. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Don’t want to pay the going rates for an elite free-agent pitcher? The Phillies’ phone lines are apparently open.

Philadelphia is willing to discuss left-hander Cole Hamels, a pitcher who is coming off a dominant season at age 30. Though he went just 9-9 for the Phillies, he posted a career-best 2.46 ERA in 30 starts with 8.7 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings in 204 1/3 innings this year. Those numbers align closely with what Jon Lester (16-11, 2.46, 9.0 Ks/9, 2.0 BBs/9) did in 2014.

The similarities go beyond that. The two pitchers were born just 11 days apart, Hamels at the end of December 1983, Lester in early January 1984. Hamels has a career 108-83 record with a 3.27 ERA and 125 ERA+. Lester is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA and 121 ERA+. Both have dominant World Series performances and a history of thriving in some of the most highly scrutinized environments in baseball. It goes without saying that Lester will use Hamels’ six-year, $144 million contract (signed just months before he reached free agency in 2012) as a very relevant data point for his own contractual discussions.

And so, the notion has been articulated many times: The Red Sox can re-sign Lester for full market value, but if they don’t want to commit, say, five or six years to a pitcher who turns 31 in January, they could trade for Hamels, who is owed $90 million (four $22.5 million salaries) in the next four years.

But the contractual contrast between the two pitchers might have been overstated, in part based on some misunderstanding about Hamels’ contract — particularly given the possibility that, if the Sox were to trade for Hamels, because he reportedly has the right to veto a deal to Boston and can thus extract negotiated concessions from a team that deals for him, they might have to pick up his $20 million for his age 35 season in 2019.

Here’s the shakedown:

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Cole Hamels, Jon Lester,
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